Ocala National ForestLeave review
About Ocala National Forest
Campgrounds in Ocala
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Finding a spot is a challenge here. There are no dedicated sites. The lake is beautiful and the breeze coming off it is wonderful. It's definitely not secluded as you can see cows and houses across the lake. The number given to contact a ranger is also useless. It redirects you to another number in which apparently no one is interested in picking up after 5. Be forewarned, mosquito repellant is a must, as they will literally carry you away if you are not prepared.
Hidden Pond is great for a serene getaway or hiking adventure! My wife and i hiked in from Pats Island trailhead coming in around 3.5-4 miles hike. The trail coming in to Hidden Pond had a good amount of variation, but there are two stretches of sand and scrub that can be brutal on a hot day. Hidden Pond has clear water (sometimes some algae) and has one area that is very accessible; kind of like a 15ft wide beach/bank. There are several camping spots to the right of the FL Scenic trail that follow the shore of Crooked Sapling Pond. (side note: Don't expect Crooked Sapling Pond to have the same water level Hidden Pond does). These sights offer great privacy and there is NO city noise out here people! Not for casual campers in my opinion.
Awesome! Many campsites to choose from (at least 21). There are, in-fact, picnic tables. There is non-potable, hand pump water well on site as well (not suitable for drinking). Very scenic. I went middle of April and the bugs weren't too bad; i guess the bat house truly does help with the bugs. You can drive in or hike in.
This is a nice spring with a large swimming area and sunbathing/picnic area. The spring flows into a beautiful clear, shallow river for canoeing and kayaking. There is a short board-walk trail through the "jungle" and there is also access to the Florida Trail near the campground entrance, which is a hiking trail that runs the length of the state. The only problem I had with this campground is you may not bring your pets into the picnic/beach area including the parking lot. You may not even leave them in your car in the parking lot, and the park ranger was very rude and mean about this. You can have pets in campsite, but if you wanted to just stop in for a quick swim, can't do it with a pet.
We camp at Doe lake every year with our hiking group. It is a great open area camp for a large group. There is a large mess hall with lot of kitchen equipment and nice bath house. There is only a couple of electric and water hook ups so most camping is primitive. This camp can only be reserved for a group. Also the picture above is not of this camp.
There is apparently a host here. I have no idea who they are. The booth at the entrance is unattended but they will sneak up and put a ticket on your windshield for that $2 admission as soon as you are away. As soon as the rest of my buddies get here we're leaving, and won't be back.
This was the first place I camped after moving to FL a couple of years ago, and after exploring other places it remains my favorite. There is plenty of hiking accessible right from the park, you can fish (not in the spring head itself but a little farther down), the campsites are spacious and shaded by a nice canopy of trees, and the water is just beautiful.
We had 4 people in 2 tents with 3 dogs felt like we had plenty of room.
I recommend going in the cooler season. You may need a wetsuit jacket (for the air temp more than water temp), but you can pretty much have the water to yourself unlike the craziness of the summer season.
History of Ocala National Forest
Covering nearly 383,000 acres, the Ocala National Forest is located in North Central Florida, two hours north of Orlando and an hour west of Daytona Beach. Although it is spread across three counties - Lake, Marion, and Putnam - the majority of the forest lies inside Marion County, with its western boundary less than a dozen miles east of the county seat of Ocala.
The core of the Ocala National Forest, the Big Scrub, was first protected in 1909 by Theodore Roosevelt as the first National Forest east of the Mississippi River. Over the decades, land acquisition has more than tripled the size of the forest, protecting rare and endangered species of plants and animals on some of the most ancient land in Florida.